On Thursday, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) announced they will introduce the very first National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights when the new Congress convenes next year. The bill, co-sponsored by Representative Pramila Jayapal and Senator Kamala Harris, would increase wages, labor conditions and protections for domestic workers. Domestic workers are often underpaid, and more than half of domestic workers are not paid enough to adequately support a family.
The bill would require fair scheduling, meal and rest breaks, and the inclusion of domestic workers in the Civil Rights and Occupational Health and Safety Act protections. The bill also requires written contracts and protections from retaliation, more paid sick leave, healthcare, training programs, and retirement benefits.
The bill also provides special protections to live-in domestic workers who are more likely to work long hours without breaks and are often always expected to be on call. Such protections include access to “panic buttons” in case of sexual harassment or threats, workers’ right to privacy, and adequate notice in case of termination. Adequate notice of termination is especially important for workers who would have to find a new home if they lose their workplace. Moreover, the bill would offer overtime for live-in domestic workers who are currently illegible for overtime pay despite their long work hours.
The bill was inspired by Recommendations from domestic work leaders and similar domestic workers bill of rights in 8 states and Seattle inspired this bill.
According to Working in These Times, the number of domestic workers continues to grow, and caregiving is expected to represent the largest sector of America’s workforce by 2030. 95 percent of domestic workers are women, and more than half of domestic workers are women of color. Approximately 45 percent of domestic workers are immigrants.
In a statement regarding the bill, Rep. Jayapal said, “Domestic workers are shaping the future of our economy. Their strength, courage and power inspires us all as we fight together for workplace democracy.”
Newswire Sources: In These Times 11/29/18